Since the Qur’an lies at the heart of Islam, the new booklet helps Christians to enter a heart-to-heart dialogue with Muslims.
New Delhi: A book authored by a Vatican cardinal and published by the New Delhi-based Islamic Studies Association aims to help Christian readers discover and contemplate the spiritual gems found in the Quran, the holy book of Muslims.
Emeritus Professor Akhtarul Wasey of the Jamia Millia Islamia on September 3 released the booklet “Journeying with Muslims: Listening, Praying and Working Together” at a program joined organized by the Indialogue Foundation and Indian Social Institute along with the Islamic Studies Association.
The book was written by Cardinal Michael Louis Fitzgerald, one of the foremost Catholic scholars in the field of Christian-Muslim relations.The 85-year-old cardinal served in the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue as Secretary between 1987 and 2002 and then president for the next six years.
While launching of the book, Wasey thanked Cardinal Fitzgerald for offering the “wonderful” text. He further said that in Journeying with Muslims, the Cardinal proposes Christians could accompany their Muslim brothers through reading and reflecting on the passages of the Qur’an without compromising their identity as Christians.
Since the Qur’an lies at the heart of Islam, the new booklet helps Christians to enter a heart-to-heart dialogue with Muslims. This idea came from the cardinal’s long association with the Muslim world, his deep knowledge of Islam and Muslims, and his deep commitment to his Christian Faith.
“It is a bold idea since the booklet invites Christians to get familiarized with selected texts from the Qur’an by praying with them,” Wasey added.
Jesuit Father Denzil Fernandes, the executive director of the Indian Social Institute, urged the gathering to explore the common areas of convergence between the two great faiths to work together for justice and peace in the world.
Indialogue Foundation secretary general Behzad Fatmi pointed asserted interfaith dialogue as a must today. “Dialogue is the first step in establishing a healthy society. Dialogue avoiding the polemical arguments gives precedence to common points, which far outnumber polemical ones,” he explained.
Jesuit Father Joseph Victor Edwin, the secretary of the Islamic Studies Association. pointed out that the Catholic Church affirms that it rejects nothing true and holy in various religions. The Church eagerly learns from the ‘true and holy’ from other religions.
Further, the Catholic Church urges Christians to familiarize themselves with the national and religious traditions of fellow citizens. Concerning Islam, the Catholic Church situates Islam as the first great non-biblical monotheistic religion.
The Vatican Council document Lumen Gentium (16) affirms that “the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these, there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.”
Noting that Christians and Muslims adore the one, merciful God is a significant statement to make considering the stiff polemical exchanges between them in the past.
Father Edwin further said despite such openness on the part of the Catholic Church towards Muslims, many Christian faithful, including some sections of the clergy and religious, in India are not only ignorant of the Muslim faith but also unfamiliar with the teachings of the Church on the subject.
The many unfounded prejudices against the Qur’an create fear and suspicion in the hearts of many Christians. In this context, Journeying with Muslims will hopefully make a significant contribution to helping Christians develop a better understanding of Islamic beliefs, Father Edwin said.
(By Matters India Reporter)